Screen size: 27in
Screen type: IPS
Resolution: 2560 x 1440
Brightness: 350 nits
Pixel response: 4ms
Refresh rate: 75Hz
Display colours: 16.7 million
Inputs: 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x DisplayPort 1.2, 1x USB-C (DisplayPort Alt mode, data and Power Delivery), 1x HDCP 1.4, 1x HDCP 2.2, 1x USB 3.2, Gen 2/10 Gbps, USB-C upstream x 1 (Data), 4x USB-A downstream (with 1 for fast charge B.C 1.2), 1x USB-C downstream (Data, PD 15 W)
Adjustment: Pivot +/- 90º, Swivel +/- 180º, Tilt -5/30º, height adjustment 150mm,
Weight: (with stand) 7.3kg
Dimensions: (with stand) 613 x 537 x 225mm
The Philips 27B1U5601H is one of the respected screen maker's most recent additions to its business monitor line-up.
And as its product line designation hints at, this is a monitor that's all business. Coming with an integrated 5MP Windows Hello webcam and built-in speakers, it's made for office use, be it with a permanent desktop or, thanks to its easy USB-C connectivity, as a second screen for your laptop.
Using it in my home office for several weeks, both for work purposes supporting my small laptop screen, and for play and hobbies when hooked up to my gaming desktop, I enjoyed its no-frills presence on my desk in work guise and got a good sense of its limitations when it came to after-hours activities (stop sniggering at the back).
It's certainly a product to consider when looking for a sharp and relatively affordable option among the best USB-C monitors on the market today, and certainly one that could benefit a business that wants its workers to enjoy a nice-quality screen experience in the office, but as we are a creative website, I wanted to see how it would pass that higher bar creative pros would set it.
Philips 27B1U5601H review: Design and build
As hinted above, the Philips 27B1U5601H isn't a flashy proposition (and it never means to be). Three standard bezels surround the 27-inch IPS screen, with a thicker bar at the bottom, adorned with a standard-issue Philips badge and control buttons in its bottom right-hand corner (as you look at it).
Today, many monitors (including many Philips ones) commit the cardinal sin of hiding the screen-control buttons in hard-to-access areas on its rear. sometimes with just one button requiring ballet-choreography-like manoeuvring to adjust simple things like brightness or contrast while contorting your front limbs into unspeakable positions.
So having five clearly labelled buttons laid out along the front bottom bar to access all your settings is a relative godsend here. As befits a no-nonsense business monitor, this Philips model knows how to keep things nice and easy. This is particularly useful if you are sharing your monitor with other workers in a hot-desking setup and want to revert to your desired settings without suffering injuries to your wrist, elbow and shoulder.
The screen itself is an IPS panel (sharper and brighter than cheaper VGA panels) with a standard 16:9 aspect ratio, while the 2560x1440 QHD resolution means you can fit plenty of content on your desktop without having to scroll around for ages, or lay out two apps/windows side by side and still have decent viewing space for each one.
Philips 27B1U5601 review: Features
Being an IPS panel, it's sharper and brighter than Philips' cheaper VGA panels, while the lack of an HDR mode means it won't hit the colourific highs or range of the maker's more expensive models, hitting a midrange of features and useability. The refresh rate maxes out at 75Hz, and the response time of 4ms with a 1000:1 contrast will do perfectly well for general office work and video-conferencing.
Speaking of VCs, the monitor comes with an integrated camera that lifts up from the top of the monitor when in use, and tucks itself away when turned off, offering privacy peace of mind in the process. It's not a world-beating spec, with 5MP resolution being perfectly serviceable for general video-conferencing purposes, but certainly not going to contend for those who need a webcam for Twitch streams or high-res online classes and presentations.
The stand has a bulky base, and I was a little bit disappointed that it doesn't have the hexagonal design of some recent Philips monitors I've received. The height and width of the base means that if you have a very compact desk without a keyboard tray, you can't slide a raised keyboard over the edges to save space like you can with the hexagonal version, but it does weigh down and stabilise the screen very effectively, which is good.
There is also ample adjustability built in, where you can pivot the screen around a full 90 degrees, and swivel it fully into a portrait orientation, which can be very helpful when using Photoshop, for example.
One nifty feature is the PowerSensor, which transmits and receives infrared signals to determine if you're present in front of the monitor, and automatically reduces monitor brightness when you step away from the desk, claiming to cut energy costs by up to 70 per cent and prolonging monitor life. This seems to work for the most part, although not all the time, but I haven't been able to pinpoint a reason for it other than the fact I have a large and tall-backed gaming chair, which it might be mistaking for a human presence...
Philips 27B1U5601 review: Performance
With 16.7 million colours and an sRGB colour gamut of 101%, the 27B1U5601 certainly isn't a slouch when it comes to visuals, especially with the brighter, sharper IPS panel.
However, without a rated Adobe RGB figure and a pixel density of only 109PPI, it won't be enough for creative pros to use it as a main work monitor. It will do its job well though, if what you need is a supporting second screen while doing higher-res work on a sharper laptop monitor, or less high-demand photo-editing or creative work.
Also, while low-velocity and strategy games like Civilization perform perfectly well on this screen, the 75Hz refresh rate and 4ms response time is quickly pushed to its limits on higher-demand FPS and racing games, even when running on a capable graphics card.
The auto-brightness adjustment based on your screen contents is also a little distracting at times, and can be a little jarring when moving from a dim scene to a bright one where the screen will then (a little belatedly) kick in with boosted brightness to exacerbate the shift.
The webcam is serviceable, and certainly good enough for most video-conferencing purposes, but like stated above, if you need a proper HD/4K camera for professional/streaming purposes, you'll need to invest in an external piece of kit. The mic, meanwhile, performs excellently, picking up speech clearly from across a room and while moving around. The speakers are also better than many recent native monitor speakers I've tested, although they don't sport the sort of depth and range you need for audio production. But there's an audio out jack for that, so no worries there.
There is a 32-inch variant of this screen available, but the screen real estate is plenty on the 27-inch model for the sort of work it does best, which is general office workhorsing, making the smaller one probably the better proposition.
Philips 27B1U5601 review: Price
The Philips 27B1U5601H is a midrange office monitor and the price tag reflects that. The RRP seems to be just under £500, but it can be had on some UK sites for under £400, so do keep a keen eye out for offers if you're interested in this monitor.
It's among the cheaper IPS panel options at this size and features point, but without world-beating creative or gaming performance, you might want a monitor more focused on those features unless what you're looking for is a classy-looking business monitor.
Should you buy the Philips 27B1U5601 ?
As stated above, the Philips 27B1U5601H knows its demographic, which isn't professional creatives or esports veterans. Philips has made a monitor that looks good among other office monitors and has a screen sharp and responsive enough for general office work and casual gaming and creative work. It's got plenty of ports and connectivity options, including USB-C, which is convenient for home office setups and office hot-desking. The ports and easy-to-navigate screen controls are better positioned here than on many competing (and indeed many other Philips) monitors.
And if that's what you need, you should definitely shortlist this monitor for your purchase research. It's not super-cheap, but it's too good to be a budget monitor anyway. If you look out for reasonable offers on it, it can be a very astute purchase, and with a brand known for durability, a few extra quid upfront should be recouped through better longevity.